Pianist, coach, and conductor Christopher Zemliauskas has a career spanning some of the top opera houses in the United States, musical theatre venues in Europe and the US, as well as recital performances, chamber music concerts, opera productions, and teaching positions around the country.
Christopher began his studies at Ithaca College, where he earned his Bachelor of Music in piano with a secondary focus in Theatre Arts, and continued his studies at the University of Minnesota with Margo Garrett where he received his Master of Music in Accompanying and Coaching. He was twice invited to the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, CA, where he studied art song and opera repertoire with Warren Jones and Marilyn Horne, and took part in the prestigious Merola Opera Program at the San Francisco Opera, where he worked with such master teachers as Martin Katz, Jane Eaglan, Steven Blier, Warren Jones, and Tom Krause. He later joined the music staff of the San Francisco Opera for their mainstage production of Rodelinda with conductor Roy Goodman.
In Minneapolis, MN, Christopher was the Resident Artist Coach, Pianist, and Conductor at The Minnesota Opera for a period of three years. Here he served as répétiteur and coach for the mainstage seasons, as well as assistant conductor on several productions. He conducted mainstage performances of Madama Butterfly, Carmen, and Die Zauberflöte, and was musical director for Resident Artist productions of The Rape of Lucretia and Der Kaiser von Atlantis. He also helped developed an art song recital series for The Minnesota Opera Resident Artists, and programmed, prepared, and accompanied these concerts at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.
Based in Boulder, CO for nine years after having accepted the position of Assistant Music Director of Opera at CU, Christopher continued his professional work playing for The Colorado Symphony and the Extasis Tango Quartet, conducting the Boulder Youth Symphony, and working on the music staff of Opera Colorado on their productions of Carmen and Il Barbiere di Sivilla. As co-founder and co-artistic director of FusionChamber, a new music ensemble in Boulder, he led productions of Pierrot Lunaire and Eight Songs for a Mad King/Miss Donnithorne’s Maggot by P.M. Davies, conceived by and featuring countertenor Randall Scotting. In Colorado Springs, he conducted productions of La Traviata, Lakme, and Die Fledermaus for Opera Theatre of the Rockies, founded by soprano Martile Rowland.
At CU Christopher’s duties included preparing singers for recital work and opera roles, collaborating with faculty and students in recital, teaching diction classes, and serving as Chorus Master for the opera productions. At CU he also led productions of Our Town, Albert Herring, Little Women, and Orfeo ed Euridice.
In his decade-long association with Central City Opera in Central City, CO, Christopher has served in such varied roles as conductor, associate conductor, recital pianist, coach, and chorus master. There he has conducted his own productions of Our Town (Rorem), Carmen, Don Quichotte chez la Duchesse, Gallantry (Moore), Cabildo (Beach), Amadigi di Gaula (Handel), A Little Night Music, and the entire cycle of Benjamin Britten Church Parables; Curlew River, The Prodigal Son, and The Burning Fiery Furnace. In addition, as an assistant he conducted performances of West Side Story, Susannah, The Saint of Bleecker Street, The Ballad of Baby Doe, Don Giovanni, La Traviata, and Cendrillon.
In 2015, Christopher accepted the position of Music Associate Professor at NYU, where he led the Vocal Department’s productions of Cendrillon and The Impressario/The Medium, in addition to teaching graduate lyric diction and opera workshop. While in New York he was music director for the world premiere of Lucy, a new opera by John Glover and Kelley Rourke. A live recording of the Milwaukee Opera Theatre premiere, on which he also plays piano, was recently released by the Naxos/New Focus label.
Currently Christopher is based in Ithaca, NY, where he is Associate Professor and Director of Opera and Musical Theatre at Ithaca College. In his first years there he has conducted productions of La Clemenza di Tito, Cendrillon, The Old Maid and the Thief, The Medium, Ragtime, Wonderful Town, and Company (Sondheim), in addition to teaching opera workshop, musical theatre workshop, and recital coaching. Other credits for Christopher include Des Moines Metro Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Music Academy of the West, Opera Company of Middlebury, Der Glöckner von Notre Dame in Berlin, College Light Opera, and the Hangar Theatre.